SCORM 2004 Vendor News

Some other good SCORM news is that Rustici Software is working on a testing tool that will help clarify/visualize Simple Sequencing and Navigation Rules and the resulting activity tree. Beta testing should begin soon, so look for an announcement or contact them if you are interested.

Last month, I bashed a few LMS vendors about not caring about certification for SCORM and AICC (or the glaring lack of certification).

Kudos to Saba for stepping up and getting Saba Enterprise Learning Suite 5.3 certified for SCORM 2004 2nd Edition (Test Suite 1.3.3) in April. Now all Saba is missing is a current AICC certification.

Hopefully, we’ll see some other vendors step up to the plate soon for AICC, and/or at least announce a position regarding SCORM 2004 certification (e.g., are they waiting for 3rd Edition?). I’d still love to see a current certification for Oracle, SAP, or SumTotal.

SCORM 2004 News – 3rd Edition Public Draft

I just got back from last week’s SCORM 2004 Technical Work Group meetings, and it seems like there will be some great clarifications in SCORM 2004 3rd Edition, particularly for Simple Sequencing and Navigation. That is the good news. The bad news is that it Simple Sequencing isn’t all that simple and can be quite confusing for your average trainer or instructional designer (including me). Also, note that it could be a few months before the final docs and then the test suite are available for SCORM 2004 3rd Edition. Although the public review period just ended, you can still get an impacts summary online.

Portable Firefox 1.5.0.2 Released

From PortableApps.com | Your Digital Life, Anywhere™:
"Portable Firefox 1.5.0.2 Released"
Submitted by John T. Haller on April 28, 2006 – 12:38pm.

Portable Firefox 1.5.0.2 has been released. Portable Firefox is the popular Mozilla Firefox web browser packaged with a PortableApps Launcher as a portable app, so you can take your bookmarks, extensions and saved passwords with you. New in this version is:

  • Update to Firefox 1.5.0.2
  • New self-extracting package download (only 5MB)
  • New App/Data internal directories for easy backups
  • New localization instructions so you can use PFF in your own language

Get it from the Portable Firefox homepage at PortableApps.com.

Now to figure out if it is worth it to add the Authorware Player (lots of read/writes to the USB Flash drive) or not. I’m pretty sure I’ll add the Flash plug-in and a few other key Firefox extensions though.

Certification: Do LMS Vendors Really Care?

I noticed that only 1of leading LMS vendor has their current product certified by AICC. Only one major LMS has a current SCORM 2004 Certification. Read on to find out who IS certified. Curious who isn’t certified right now for either standard? As of this writing I don’t see Oracle, Saba, SAP, or SumTotal when I look on the AICC site (AICC Certified Products), nor do I see any of those products on the ADL SCORM 2004 Certified Products list.

Hmm, sorta makes you wonder why companies have problems integrating their content with their LMS.

Not that the issue is entirely on the LMS side. I don’t see many content vendors with current AICC Certification either though. No current AICC certification for Articulate, DazzlerMax, Lectora Publisher, and ToolBook to name a few. There are quite a few I didn’t name too.

Content tools fare much better with SCORM 2004 certification , where you will see that Adobe Breeze, Adobe Captivate, Articulate Presenter, EEDO ForceTen, OutStart Evolution and ToolBook are all listed.

Time to run off to Masie’s LMS 2006 Users Group that is running right now. It is no wonder that this event sold out.

PS- Plateau has both AICC certification and SCORM 2004 certification currently. The only one out there as far as I can tell.

Must-have Resources for Authorware

It has been 18 years since I first saw Authorware (then Course of Action) in grad school and 15 years since I first drew a paycheck from using it. Once again I am deep into Authorware development. I’m updating some projects to make better use of Javascript and XML technology as well as improvements to Authorware itself. Here are 3 "must-have" resources:

  • Click Craft Find & Fix Command– A multitasking necktop known as Ron Lubensky offers an incredible, scriptable, automated way to find and fix virtually anything in an Authorware file. A nice intuitive UI lets you select properties to find/change, including content of Calculation icons or even the ability to paste in new models. If you use Authorware, go buy this. It is the best $36 USD you can spend if you already own Authorware.
  • Table of Contents for a better idea. A veryhandy reference by Joe Ganci and Chris Swenson of DazzleTech. (if you have trouble finding it on their site, follow this path: Products > Digital books > Javascript for Authorware). It costs $50 USD.
  • JavaScript Quick Reference for Authorware 7.0– Again, Ron comes from down under and goes over the top. A free Javascript-Authorware reference that integrates with Authorware 7, including "snippet integration" with the Calculation icon. Most excellent!

I bought/downloaded all of these myself last week and am quite happy. There’s nothing in it for me to recommend these resources, other than sharing good authoring karma. While I’m at it, be sure to check out Andrew Lucking’s blog. I’ve seen Andrew on Authorware forums and around the net, and I finally had a chance to meet him at the AICC meetings in January 2006. His blog has good stuff on elearning, Authorware, web development, video encoding Flash and more. Moreover, I actually find the occasional flyer about boat construction to be quite interesting.

Questionmark 2006 Conference Presentation

I had a great time at the Questionmark User Conference last week in San Francisco. Thanks again to all the Questionmarkers who made it such a wonderful experience.

My presentation was on Monday, with Robby Robson from IEEE LTSC and Eduworks, and Chuck Allen from the HR-XML Consortium. You can download a copy of the presentation here: 2006 Elearning Standards Panel (562K, PDF).

Eric Shepherd of Questionmark acted as the moderator did a great job of introducing standards and the panel, and explaining how Questionmark supports standards. Robby Robson addressed the rationale for elearning standards, and provided a sort of "state of standards" overview. I gave my take on ADL and AICC, and an overview of the elearning PENS specification (Package Exchange Notification Services). Chuck Allen explained how HR-XML works to allow "arms-length" partners and intermediaries to interact using web services. A very practical use of web services and XML gateways to enable secure transactions for HR, like resume extraction, background checks, assessments and more. Take a look at the presentation if you’re interested in any of this.

I went to a few other sessions and overall, I’d highly recommend this conference to everyone who uses Questionmark. Fantastic uses cases and best practices from other customers, friendly & helpful folks everywhere, focused technical sessions with their tech teams, a chance to steer product directions, and great keynote speakers like Elliott Masie and Allison Rossett.

Flash in a Flash: Collaborative Template-based Elearning Authoring

I don’t know quite what to call them, but they are growing in popularity. They are web-based applications that create "LMS-ready" elearning, supporting SCORM and/or AICC standards. A year or two ago, this seemed to be more of an in-house tactic with 1-2 commercial products along these lines. Now it seems like there are half a dozen commercial products with web-based authoring of Flash-based output.

In some cases they even offer their own LMS, in other cases they partner with LMS providers or professional services companies. Some of the systems focus more on SME-authoring, others on extensibility/customization, and still others on project management. Here are a few I’ve come across:

  • SmartBuilder– This was probably the first one I remember seeing, back in 2000 or 2001. At that time they relied on Generator, but it has been updated many times since. It has several marquee clients in the Fortune 500.
  • CourseAvenue– I first saw this in 2004, though it may have been around slightly earlier than that. It also has several customers that are household names. It was featured in the July 2005 Macromedia Edge newsletter.
  • QMIND– This may be the newest of the bunch, but I like their product positioning which emphasizes the instructional design workflow and project/production management. They also have an interesting pricing model based on the modules used and roles.
  • Mohive Toolbox– Mohive is based in Oslo, and seems to have garnered quite a few customers in Europe. I’m not sure how long the product has been around.

Are there some commercial products like these that I am missing? Let me know.